The best football teams on the planet, the best coaches on the planet, have one thing in common; Philosophy. By ‘Philosophy’ I don’t mean asking deep questions like ‘do fish get thirsty’ or ‘why is sand called sand’, but rather a way of playing, a style and attitude which becomes synonymous with a club or a coach: Sarriball, the Barcelona Way, Heavy Metal Football, and the many, many other coaching and tactical identities that litter the game.
With FM19 practically on our doorstep, I wanted to take some time to think about the philosophy and strategy that I want to implement with Red Star this year. I spoke in the Introduction to this save about focusing on quick build-up and good decisions, and while I’ve not had a chance yet to look at how tactics fully work on FM19, this remains the plan. However, it’s important to realise that quick build-up doesn’t necessarily mean going front-back in 15 seconds with 4 triangular passes; I just want us moving the ball well and when the opportunity to get the ball into the box arises, making the right decisions to take advantage of that chance.
Over the past few years, Mr FMGrasshopper amazed me with the adventures of Angel Bastardo and Estudiantes, building a team around the principles of fibra and taking us all on a roller coaster ride of emotions with a team moulded to a single vision and philosophy. I’m not looking for quite as badass an approach as Angel Bastardo in La Plata, but I’ll be looking to instil a similar approach to my philosophy in Paris.
Red Star’s motto is “Notre Coeur, Notre Force” which translates to ‘Our Heart, Our Strength’ and this is where I’ll start with our philosophy; bringing and and developing players who have the strength and determination needed to succeed. That gives us the first 2 points of my ‘5 Pillars‘: Strength and Determination.
We’re all familiar with Determination as an attribute: it’s what drives the development of youngsters and shapes the personality of a squad. For me, it’s going to be the benchmark by which I decide who to sign, by giving myself some strict rules around the level of determination a player needs to possess in order to be signed in any capacity. I will not sign any senior (>23) player with a Determination of under 14. For players coming through the youth intake or who are Under 23, I will not sign them if they have a Determination of under 12. The reason for this difference is that the youngsters coming through have the opportunity to benefit from tutoring to raise their determination, while this is more difficult for senior players.
Strength relates to a level of physicality that I want my team to be able to play with. I’m not talking about going out and being bruisers on the field, but as we’re playing lower-league football here, we are going to have to be able to hold our own in a physical battle. Again with Strength I’m going to take a staggered approach, looking for a little less from our youth players – for the youngsters I’m going to be looking for a base level of around 12, while senior players will need 14 or higher. This isn’t going to be a make-or-break attribute but it’s absolutely something which I’ll be taking into account when I’m deciding who to sign and who to sell.
The third attribute that I’m going to look at was alluded in the Introduction; Decision-Making. This links back to what I said about the training at Clairefontaine focusing on training players mentally, and ensuring they make the right decisions in the right areas of the pitch. I’m conscious that this is another mental attribute, and again I’ll be staggering the ‘cut-off’; Under 23s will have to have a Decision-Making of over 12, while over 23 players must be above 14. By focusing on decision-making, I’m hoping our players will be able to take care of the ball well, and make good decisions, especially in the final third. I’ve found that in FM18 I’ve had a few issues with players who burst through into the final third and then shoot when they should cross. I’m hoping that by putting emphasis on Decisions with Red Star, that will be reduced, and we’ll be able to capitalise more on the chances we make.
For our final two attributes, I’ve picked the ones that I feel will help the entire squad: Composure and Technique. My whole objective is to develop well-rounded, technical players, and I think that these two attributes will combine well with what we’ve already set out to create a squad capable of keeping the ball and punishing poor decision making from our opposition. For both of these attributes I’ll be looking for a base-line of 12 for Under 23s, and 14 for Senior Players.
So, to re-cap, our Five Pillars, are Strength, Determination, Decisions, Composure and Technique. By filtering out players who don’t hit the benchmarks (12 for Under 23 players and 14 for Senior Players) on each of these attributes, I’m hoping to be able to mould the squad into a team who play attractive, clinical football and are still able to keep up with the physicality of the league. Obviously, I will not only look at these attributes, but still consider the key attributes of the role the player will play (pace for wingers, passing for midfielders, etc).
Of course, the best laid plans always fall apart, but I have hope that I’ll be able to build a team around these principles which has sustained success across the lifespan of the save. Our next instalment will look in more detail at my transfer and development policy, and will talk about how I plan on modelling both Clairefontaine and Monaco’s systems to turn Red Star into a powerhouse of French and European football.
Other articles you may enjoy:
- Football Manager 2019’s new features – and if they’re worth it.
- The Football Factory | Part 1
- Choose Your League | FM19 | Leagues To Manage In
- Choose Your Team | FM19 | Who To Manage
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